The BBC made a massive mistake by firing “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson last year — or so the network’s former boss thinks.
While the drama surrounding Clarkson’s suspension and subsequent dismissal for assaulting a producer sparked huge headlines around the world, it’s resulted in a disaster for the network’s hit car show.
“Clarkson can be a deeply objectionable individual, and I say that as a friend. I don’t think people should punch their colleagues. It’s hard to keep them if they do,” Mark Thompson, who is now CEO of the New York Times, told Britain’s Sunday Times Magazine.
“But I would say his pungent, transgressive, slightly out-of-control talent was something the BBC could ill afford to lose,” Thompson said. “He spoke to people who didn’t find much else in the BBC.”
After Clarkson left the show in a blaze of controversy that included a lawsuit brought against him by producer Oisin Tymon, British radio host Chris Evans was brought in to take the wheel — but then he quit last month.
“Stepping down from ‘Top Gear,'” Evans announced on Twitter. “Gave it my best shot but sometimes that’s not enough. The team are beyond brilliant, I wish them all the best.”
“Saturday Kitchen” star and celebrity chef James Martin is now the frontrunner for the jinxed hosting gig, according to the Daily Mirror.
Ratings for “Top Gear” plummeted after Evans took over the show, with the series finale drawing an all-time low of 1.9 million viewers in the U.K.
Thompson went on to say that Evans had done himself no favors by trying to “impersonate” Clarkson.
The former BBC chief went on to recall how he first heard about the incident between Clarkson and Tymon.
“Clarkson phoned up out of the blue when I was on a day off. His first words were: ‘I won’t apologise. I don’t care what you say: I won’t,'” he revealed.
“I said: ‘Er, why would I want you to apologise?’ He told me that he’d just called Gordon Brown, who was then prime minister, “a one-eyed Scottish idiot” and a ‘c—‘. We agreed that he would apologise for calling him ‘one-eyed.'”
As for former “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc, who was named as co-host after Clarkson’s reign ended, the American actor doesn’t know if he’ll be returning either.
“I don’t know — call the BBC,” LeBlanc told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills earlier this month
“I’m not sure what’s happening with ‘Top Gear’ just yet, but this is my priority,” LeBlanc said, referring to his new CBS family comedy “Man With a Plan.”